Press Releases

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) introduced Jasmine Yoon in a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing. In November, the senators recommended Yoon to fill an upcoming vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, which will be created when Judge Michael F. Urbanski assumes senior status in July 2024. In January, President Biden nominated Yoon for the seat. 

“[Yoon] came to our country at age 14 from South Korea, speaking virtually no English. So in eighth grade, she spent her time reading the dictionary and watching American TV, and by the time she got into high school, she spoke fluent English thanks to that ethic of hard work. She developed such a stellar record that she was a two-time graduate of the University of Virginia, both undergrad and law school,” said Sen. Warner. “Jasmine’s community-oriented mindset, her qualifications, and her numerous accolades make her an extraordinary nominee for the Western District of Virginia.”

“This is such a happy occasion for Senator Warner and I,” said Sen. Kaine. “[Jasmine Yoon] really has a wide breadth of legal experience. We've never had an Asian American member of the Article III bench in Virginia… To have come to the United States at age 14, speaking virtually no English, and four years later, to get a full scholarship to UVA—when she graduated from undergrad, she received the award as the outstanding undergraduate… and she also received the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation scholarship to go to UVA law school. Truly an amazing record… She would be a tremendous, tremendous asset to our federal judiciary, and that’s why Mark and I are so proud to be here to introduce her today.”

Jasmine Yoon is the Vice President for Corporate Integrity, Ethics, and Investigations at Capital One Financial Corporation. Prior to this role, she served as Interim University Counsel and Associate University Counsel at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, her alma mater. She also worked as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, where she investigated and prosecuted over 80 financial crimes and public corruption cases. Her nomination will now be considered by the Judiciary Committee and subsequently the full Senate.

Under President Biden, the senators have confirmed 177 federal judges to the bench, including the Honorable Toby HeytensPatricia Tolliver GilesMichael S. NachmanoffElizabeth HainesJamar Walker, and Robert Ballou for federal courts across Virginia. 

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WASHINGTON —Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released the following statement applauding President Biden’s nomination of Jasmine Yoon to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia (WDVA):

“Having dedicated her career to promoting accountability and justice, Ms. Yoon would bring a brilliant, principled voice to the Court. Her experience investigating and prosecuting financial crimes and public corruption cases as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, as well as her profound commitment to public service informed by her life experience growing up as an immigrant, will serve her well in this important role. We look forward to voting in favor of her confirmation.”

Last year, Sens. Warner and Kaine sent a letter to President Biden recommending Ms. Yoon, who also previously served as Interim University Counsel and Associate University Counsel at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, her alma mater. These nominations are subject to confirmation by the full Senate.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, submitted an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to reverse a dangerous injunction that would limit the government’s ability to communicate with social media companies regarding foreign threats on their platforms ahead of the 2024 election. The brief was submitted following the decision of the Court to hear arguments in Murthy v. Missouri, a case that will decide the role that government officials can play in communicating with private social media companies when it comes to countering foreign disinformation campaigns.

In his capacity as Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Sen. Warner stressed the need for continuing communication between social media platforms and the federal government, on a voluntary basis, in order to prevent foreign adversaries, including Russia, Iran, and China, from using these sites to carry out campaigns threatening our national security.

“The best way to combat foreign malign influence is cooperation between the public and private sectors,” Sen. Warner wrote in his brief. “Threat sharing allows the government and social media companies to combine disparate data sets and share appropriate information.”

“[T]he U.S. government has long relied on threat sharing including defensive briefings—to alert unwitting U.S. persons and organizations to efforts by foreign adversaries and intelligence services to target, exploit, or infiltrate them. That information sharing is crucial in the information security context due to the increasing sophistication and organization of the attackers,” he wrote.

“Threat sharing not only allows organizations to leverage collective knowledge and capabilities to identify and increase awareness of certain threats, but it also permits those organizations to improve their systems and minimize susceptibility to threats going forward,” Sen. Warner continued.  

Since the 2016 election, the Intelligence Community (IC) has regularly engaged social media companies on a voluntary basis, including Meta, Facebook and Instagram’s parent company, Twitter (now X), and YouTube to help identify foreign accounts operating with the purpose of misleading the American public, sowing dissent among users, intimidating minority groups, threatening election officials, and even seeking to incite violence between Americans.

Sen. Warner’s brief underscores the importance of this work, noting that social companies have expressly communicated with government officials their willingness to work together to combat the coordinated influence campaigns by adversaries taking place on their platforms – noting his experience in 2017 in jointly leading a bipartisan investigation into Russia’s influence activity targeting the 2016 election.

“Social media platforms share the Intelligence Committee’s concern regarding foreign malign influence. They categorically do not want to be a vector or facilitate these campaigns. To that end, they proactively share intelligence information with the government and request that government agencies and officials share knowledge with them too,” Sen. Warner continued.

Sen. Warner argues that the current Fifth Circuit ruling has severely limited the federal government’s ability to engage with social media companies on a voluntary basis over threats that have been identified on their platforms, and would cause lasting repercussions if not reversed. With less than a year before the presidential election, and with a recently-declassified intelligence assessment emphasizing the continuing threat of foreign election influence, a Supreme Court ruling that preserved or expanded the Fifth Circuit’s injunction could have lasting damage.

“Any injunction here would prevent or limit the government’s ability to communicate with social media companies and would leave the United States vulnerable to attack. Foreign malign influence campaigns have grown in number, scope, and sophistication since 2016, and any progress gained through improved threat sharing processes may be entirely lost if the injunction is not lifted.” Sen. Warner stated.

Sen. Warner concludes by asking the Supreme Court to reverse the Fifth circuit decision, writing: “There is no substitute for real time threat sharing between the government and social media companies when it comes to combating foreign malign information campaigns. The government and social media companies have access to different types of information and benefit form exchanging such information where appropriate. It is essential to our national security that the government can communicate freely with social media companies about threats that foreign malign influence campaigns pose to their platforms and users. To preserve America’s ability to respond quickly and effectively to foreign malign influence campaigns that target our national security and elections, this Court should reverse the judgement of the Fifth Circuit in relevant part and direct that the preliminary injunction be vacated in its entirety.”

The full amicus brief is available here.

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) sent a letter to President Biden recommending both Patice Holland and Jasmine Yoon to fill one upcoming vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, which will be created when Judge Michael F. Urbanski assumes senior status in July 2024. 

Patice Holland was born and raised in Franklin County and has worked at Wood Rogers Vandeventer Black PLC in Roanoke, Virginia since 2007, having first joined the firm as a law clerk and now serving as a Principal Attorney and chair of the firm’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force. In addition to her practice, she currently serves as substitute judge in the 23rd Judicial Circuit of Virginia. Ms. Holland dedicates her free time to community outreach and serves on nine bar associations in Virginia.

Jasmine Yoon is the Vice President for Corporate Integrity, Ethics, and Investigations at Capital One Financial Corporation. Prior to this role, she served as Interim University Counsel and Associate University Counsel at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, her alma mater. She also worked as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, where she investigated and prosecuted over 80 financial crimes and public corruption cases.

“We are pleased to recommend Ms. Patice Holland and Ms. Jasmine Yoon for the vacancy on the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia, following the decision by Chief Judge Michael F. Urbanski to assume senior status effective July 4, 2024,” said the senators. “Both would serve with great distinction and have our highest recommendation.” 

Warner and Kaine recommended Patice Holland and Jasmine Yoon based on their distinguished records and the assessments of an independent panel of attorneys from across the Commonwealth as well as feedback from numerous bar associations in Virginia. President Biden will now nominate one individual for the position to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The nomination is subject to confirmation by the full Senate. 

Under President Biden, the senators have confirmed 153 federal judges to the bench, including the Honorable Toby HeytensPatricia Tolliver GilesMichael S. NachmanoffElizabeth HainesJamar Walker, and Robert Ballou for federal courts across Virginia. 

Full text of the letter is available here and below. 

 

Dear Mr. President: 

We are pleased to recommend Ms. Patice Holland and Ms. Jasmine Yoon for the vacancy on the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia, following the decision by Chief Judge Michael F. Urbanski to assume senior status effective July 4, 2024. Both would serve with great distinction and have our highest recommendation. 

Born and raised in Franklin County, Virginia, Ms. Holland has worked at Wood Rogers Vandeventer Black PLC in Roanoke, Virginia since 2007, having first joined the firm as a law clerk to now serving as a Principal Attorney and chair of the firm’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force. In addition to her practice, she currently serves as substitute judge in the 23rd Judicial Circuit of Virginia. Ms. Holland dedicates her free time to community outreach and serves on nine bar associations in Virginia. These experiences give us great confidence that Ms. Holland would make an excellent nominee for this seat.

Ms. Yoon is the Vice President for Corporate Integrity, Ethics, and Investigations at Capital One Financial Corporation. Prior to this role, she served as Interim University Counsel and Associate University Counsel at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, her alma mater. She also worked as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, where she investigated and prosecuted over 80 financial crimes and public corruption cases. These experiences qualify Ms. Yoon for this nomination and we are honored to recommend her.

Ultimately, we believe either of these individuals would secure confirmation from the Senate and serve capably on the bench. We are honored to recommend them to you.

 

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WASHINGTON -- Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the following statement on the indictment of former President Donald Trump:

“For the rest of our lives, January 6 will mark a day where democracy was brought to the brink as public servants barricaded behind locked doors, law enforcement officers suffered lasting harm, and Americans watched as thugs attempted to bring an entire branch of government to its knees. As with his other indictments, Donald Trump will have the opportunity to speak to these accusations in court. I hope to see my colleagues and fellow Americans respect law and order and allow these legal proceedings to run their course without violence or interference.”

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) are now accepting applications for the position of United States District Court Judge for the Western District of Virginia, to succeed United States District Court Judge Michael F. Urbanski, who will assume senior status effective July 4, 2024.

An independent panel of lawyers assembled by the senators will review applications and interview qualified individuals. The senators will then use those recommendations, as well as input from experts, practitioners, and bar associations from around the Commonwealth, as they consider potential nominees to recommend to the President. The White House will then nominate an individual whose nomination is subject to confirmation by the full Senate.

Interested applicants should visit Senator Warner’s website for instructions. The application period will close August 14, 2023.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced legislation to strengthen the security of U.S. election infrastructure by requiring that voting systems undergo simulated attacks as part of their standard certification process. Specifically, the Strengthening Election Cybersecurity to Uphold Respect for Elections through Independent Testing (SECURE IT) Act would direct the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to require that systems seeking certification undergo penetration testing, a practice that allows researchers to search for vulnerabilities by attempting to attack a system with the same tools and techniques used by cybercriminals.

“If we’re going to defeat our adversaries, we have to be able to think like they do. The SECURE IT Act would allow researchers to step into the shoes of cybercriminals and uncover vulnerabilities and weaknesses that might not be found otherwise,” said Sen. Warner. “As foreign and domestic adversaries continue to target U.S. democracy, I’m proud to introduce legislation to harness a critical cybersecurity practice that will help safeguard our elections infrastructure.”  

“This bipartisan legislation will strengthen the integrity of our election process by ensuring that voting systems are safe and secure,” said Sen. Collins. “It will help protect and bolster public confidence in our elections.”

Current regulations under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) require the EAC to provide for the testing and certification, decertification, and recertification of voting system hardware and software by accredited laboratories. However, HAVA does not explicitly require penetration testing of voting systems. 

This legislation would direct the EAC to require that a voting system undergo cybersecurity penetration testing in order to be certified. It would also direct the EAC and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to accredit entities that can perform penetration testing to fulfill the aforementioned requirement. Additionally, the legislation would direct the EAC to create a voluntary Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure Program for election systems. Under this program, vetted researchers would be given access to voting systems voluntarily provided by manufacturers in order to discover vulnerabilities and disclose them to the manufacturer and EAC.

“This bill will allow independent election system researchers like myself to contribute more fully to the maintaining public confidence in our elections. The SECURE IT Act will create a space where researchers and election systems manufacturers can work together to find—and fix—any cybersecurity vulnerability that may exist in our election infrastructure,” said Dr. Juan E. Gilbert, Chair of the Computer & Information Science & Engineering Department at the University of Florida.

“ES&S has long supported and taken part in independent testing of its elections equipment,” said Tom Burt, CEO and president of Election Systems & Software, the largest manufacturer of voting systems in the United States. “Programmatic testing performed by independent security experts helps ensure equipment stays ahead of threats, and it helps increase voter confidence in the overall security of elections.  I appreciate Senator Warner’s and Senator Collins’ work to further secure our nation’s elections.”

A copy of the bill is available here and a one-page summary is available here

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WASHINGTON – Today, following a federal district court judge’s ruling suspending the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s 2000 approval of mifepristone, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, along with 238 other members of Congress, submitted an amicus brief urging a higher court to prevent that dangerous ruling from going into effect. Mifepristone is a safe and effective medication that has been widely used for abortion care and miscarriage management for over two decades. The Department of Justice announced on Monday that it would appeal the lower court ruling and ask the Fifth Circuit to stop the ruling from going into effect.

The lawmakers’ brief underscores that the district court ruling denies access to mifepristone in every state, posing serious health risks to pregnant patients, and jeopardizes patients’ access to other medications by threatening FDA’s drug approval process, which was mandated by Congress. Accordingly, the brief asks the Fifth Circuit to pause the district court’s order.

“The district court appears to have second-guessed FDA’s scientific determinations with cherry-picked anecdotes and studies, and on that basis, imposed a remedy that could significantly upend the status quo,” write the lawmakers in their brief.

If the Fifth Circuit allows the district court ruling to go into effect, the members stress that patients in every state may be denied access to the most common form of abortion care and a key drug used in miscarriage management. This ruling would also undermine FDA’s authority to determine the safety and efficacy of other drugs , threatening patients’ access to medications. The members also explain that Congress specifically designed FDA’s expert-driven drug approval process to ensure that the medications relied on by Americans are safe and effective. FDA followed that careful review process in its approval of mifepristone for use in 2000, and that approval has been repeatedly affirmed in the more than 20 years since.

“[T]he district court’s misguided stay under Section 705 of the Administrative Procedure Act will reduce access to abortion, exacerbating an already significant reproductive health crisis,” write the lawmakers, adding: “The consequences of the district court’s remedy could extend far beyond mifepristone, for it undermines the science-based, expert-driven process that Congress designed for determining whether drugs are safe and effective.”

“Its perilous consequences reach far beyond mifepristone. Providers and patients rely on the availability of thousands of FDA-approved drugs to treat or manage a range of medical conditions, including asthma, HIV, infertility, heart disease, diabetes, and more,” the lawmakers state.

“For the last century, a statutory scheme designed by Congress has assured the safety and effectiveness of the drugs available in the United States. At its core resides the application of scientific standards by agency experts,” the lawmakers write. “Here, FDA’s determination that mifepristone is safe and effective is based on a thorough and comprehensive review process prescribed and overseen by the legislative branch.  Since mifepristone’s initial approval in 2000, FDA has repeatedly and consistently reaffirmed that the medication is safe and effective for its approved conditions of use. FDA’s process and conclusions have been validated by both Congress and the Government Accountability Office—and by the lived experience of over 5 million patients who have used the drug in the United States.”

The lawmakers conclude by asking the Fifth Circuit to stay the decision, writing: “emergency relief from the order is necessary to mitigate the imminent harm facing members of the public, many of whom rely on the availability of mifepristone for reproductive care—and many more rely on the integrity of FDA’s drug approval process for continued access to life-improving and life-saving drugs. Congress intended to—and did—vest authority in FDA to evaluate and ensure the safety and efficacy of drugs in the United States, and Amici call on this Court to give due weight to that intent.” 

In addition to Warner and Kaine, the amicus brief was signed by U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), John Fetterman (D-PA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR). 190 members of the House of Representatives also signed the amicus brief.

The amicus brief is available here.

 

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U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement in response to former President Trump's indictment:

“In in the United States nobody is above the law, especially not the leaders who have been entrusted with the privilege and responsibility of serving the American people. While we haven’t yet seen this indictment, I trust that the former President – like all Americans accused of a crime – will have his fair day in court and the opportunity to speak to these accusations. While our constitution protects the right to peaceful protest, it also guarantees the right to due process. I hope to see my colleagues and fellow Americans uphold these values by respecting law and order and allowing these legal proceedings to run their course without violence or interference.”

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HIGH-QUALITY VIDEO OF SENS. WARNER AND KAINE SPEAKING ON THE SENATE FLOOR AVAILABLE HERE

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released the following statement after the Senate voted to confirm Judge Robert Ballou to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia:

“Judge Ballou brings decades of experience both trying and deciding cases in the Western District of Virginia. We’re proud to have recommended him to President Biden and are confident he’ll continue his service to Virginians by upholding the law fairly and impartially.”

Judge Ballou has served as a Federal Magistrate Judge in the Western District since 2011. Prior to joining the bench, he spent twenty-three years in private practice. He tried fifty cases before juries over that period of time. On the bench, he has overseen a wide variety of federal civil and criminal matters, conducted dozens of misdemeanor criminal trials, and several civil jury trials. He has also dedicated time and attention to the Veterans Court and the prisoner pro se docket. A native of Roanoke, Judge Ballou received undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Virginia and has practiced law in both Richmond and Roanoke.

In August 2021, Warner and Kaine sent a letter to President Biden recommending Judge Ballou for the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia following Judge James P. Jones’ decision to take senior status. Warner and Kaine recommend individuals for judicial vacancies based on their distinguished records and the advice of an independent panel of attorneys from across the Commonwealth. President Biden announced his nomination of Judge Ballou in July 2022. 

Last week, the Senate confirmed Sens. Warner and Kaine’s recommendation for the Eastern District of Virginia, Jamar Walker. With both Walker and Ballou confirmed, all vacancies on Virginia District Courts are filled.  

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VIDEO OF WARNER & KAINE FLOOR SPEECHES ON JAMAR WALKER AVAILABLE HERE 

WASHINGTON– Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement after the Senate voted to confirm Mr. Jamar Walker to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA):

“We’re pleased the Senate voted to confirm Mr. Jamar Walker to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia after we recommended him to the President. Mr. Walker brings significant experience to the bench, and we are confident that he will serve Virginia and our country with great distinction.”

Once sworn in, Walker will be the first openly gay federal district judge in Virginia. On Monday, February 27, Warner and Kaine spoke on the Senate floor about the historic nature of Jamar Walker’s confirmation and urged their Senate colleagues to confirm him. Broadcast-quality video is available here.

In March 2022, Warner and Kaine sent a letter to President Biden recommending Mr. Jamar Walker for the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia following Judge Raymond A. Jackson’s decision to take senior status in November 2021. Warner and Kaine recommend individuals for judicial vacancies based on their distinguished records and the advice of an independent panel of attorneys from across the Commonwealth. The President announced his nomination of Mr. Walker in July 2022.

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CLICK BELOW TO DOWNLOAD BROADCAST-QUALITY AUDIO AND VIDEO: 

ON THE COMMONWEALTH’S POLICY CHANGES 

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF AN EFFECTIVE ASHANTI ALERT SYSTEM 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) is applauding crucial changes to the deployment of the Ashanti Alert, which provides rapid dissemination of information to law enforcement agencies, media, and the public about adults who have been reported missing. This revised policy follows relentless advocacy by the Senator, who has worked publicly and behind the scenes to ensure that the Ashanti Alert is utilized effectively and able to save lives.

“I’m pleased to see the Commonwealth approach this issue in a thoughtful manner and act to ensure that the Ashanti Alert is able to achieve its intended purpose of saving lives. While it’s impossible to design a perfect system that prevents every tragedy, it’s my hope that Virginia’s revised missing person report form will increase transparency and clarity, and that the Commonwealth’s commitment to proactively contact local police to see if an Ashanti Alert is necessary will prevent urgent cases from slipping through the cracks. I look forward to seeing the Virginia State Police work to inform local law enforcement about the Ashanti Alert process and ensure that it is closely followed,” said Sen. Warner.

The revised policy – detailed in a letter from the Commonwealth of Virginia – comes in response to a formal inquiry by Sen. Warner, who wrote to the Youngkin administration in December expressing concern with the Ashanti Alert’s deployment. In the letter, the Senator underscored the case of Marie Covington, whose Ashanti Alert was issued two days after she was reported missing and two hours before she was found murdered. In the letter, the Senator posed a number of questions about the alert’s deployment, and urged the Youngkin administration to re-examine the criteria used to decide when and whether to issue an alert.

A champion for the Ashanti Alert, Sen. Warner secured unanimous passage of the Ashanti Alert Act through the Senate on December 6, 2018 and the bill was signed into law on December 31, 2018. Since its implementation, Sen. Warner has consistently secured $1 million annually in government spending to support states who chose to implement an Ashanti Alert system. That funding was included in the Fiscal Year 2023 government spending bill.

The Ashanti Alert Act is named after Ashanti Billie, the 19-year-old who was abducted in Norfolk, Va. on September 18, 2017. Her body was discovered in North Carolina 11 days after she was first reported missing. At the time of Ashanti’s abduction, she was too old for an Amber Alert and too young for a Silver Alert. The Ashanti Alert, like the other alert systems, would notify the public about missing or endangered adults through radio and television broadcast systems to assist law enforcement in the search.

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WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine urged the Virginia General Assembly to protect marriage equality by repealing the ban on same-sex marriage that remains in Virginia’s constitution. In 2006, over then-Governor Kaine’s strong objection, Virginia passed a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, but the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges overrides Virginia’s ban by requiring all states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. While Sens. Warner and Kaine helped pass legislation last year to ensure same-sex marriages are recognized by every state, the right of same-sex couples to marry in Virginia would be jeopardized by the state ban if Obergefell is overturned.

“We write today to urge you to take action to protect marriage equality. The General Assembly should act now to repeal the shameful ban on same-sex marriage that remains in the state constitution,” the senators wrote in a letter to General Assembly leadership.

The senators continued, “It is long past time that Virginia’s governing document conveys to same-sex marriages the same freedoms, rights, and responsibilities that are afforded to all other constitutional marriages. We urge you to work with your colleagues to advance legislation for a referendum that would fully protect Virginia’s LGBTQ couples.”

Amendments to Virginia’s constitution must pass both chambers of the General Assembly in two consecutive sessions and then be passed on the ballot by voters. Constitutional amendments cannot be vetoed by a Governor. The Virginia Senate passed a bill to repeal the state constitutional ban in the 2022 session, but that bill failed in the Virginia House of Delegates, restarting the amendment process. On January 31, 2023, the Virginia Senate Privileges and Elections Committee favorably reported a similar bill to repeal the ban.

In the U.S. Senate, Warner and Kaine were among the 212 members of Congress who signed an amicus brief arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court that same-sex married couples should have the same legal security, rights, and responsibilities that federal law provides all other married couples. Warner and Kaine have also cosponsored the Equality Act, which would amend federal civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in education, employment, housing, credit, and federal jury service.

Full text of the letter is available here and below.

Dear Leaders Saslaw, Norment, Kilgore, and Scott:

We write today to urge you to take action to protect marriage equality. The General Assembly should act now to repeal the shameful ban on same-sex marriage that remains in the state constitution.

Marriage is a sacred and fundamental right in our society. In a long-overdue victory for the LGBTQ community, the Supreme Court concluded in Obergefell v. Hodges that the 14th Amendment requires states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, bringing the country one step closer to the fundamental ideal of equality for all.  We were proud to cosponsor and support the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act in the Senate. On December 13, 2022, President Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act into law, ensuring that same-sex and interracial couples lawfully married in any state will have their marriages recognized across the country even if Obergefell is overturned.  Although the Respect for Marriage Act provides full faith and credit for state-issued marriage licenses, the legislation does not require a state to issue a marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

While the Obergefell decision supersedes Virginia’s constitutional ban, the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health makes same-sex couples feel that their marriages are in jeopardy. In fact, Justice Clarence Thomas stated in his concurring opinion that “in future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.”  If Obergefell is overturned, then LGBTQ Virginians will likely lose the right to marry the person they love unless the General Assembly repeals the ban in Virginia’s constitution. Virginia’s circuit courts would be prohibited from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples due to the prohibition in the Commonwealth’s constitution.

We are encouraged by proposals in both the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate to repeal the constitutional provision. It is long past time that Virginia’s governing document conveys to same-sex marriages the same freedoms, rights, and responsibilities that are afforded to all other constitutional marriages. We urge you to work with your colleagues to advance legislation for a referendum that would fully protect Virginia’s LGBTQ couples.

Thank you for your continued leadership and service to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined their colleagues in introducing a bicameral and bipartisan resolution to immediately remove the ratification deadline for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and take a critical step toward enshrining equality for women in the United States Constitution. The introduction of this resolution follows the 2020 passage of an amendment by the Virginia General Assembly, which made Virginia the 38th and final state needed to ratify the ERA.

“In 2020, Virginia carried this important issue across the finish line by becoming the final state needed to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. It’s time to remove this trivial deadline, recognize the will of the states, and ensure that women’s equality is fully and expressly recognized in our Constitution,” said Sen. Warner.

“In 2020, Virginia took action to enshrine equality for women into the Constitution by becoming the 38th and final state needed to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment,” said Sen. Kaine. “Now, it’s time for Congress to act to remove the arbitrary time limit for ratification and finally guarantee women equal protection under the Constitution.”

The Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced 100 years ago to codify gender equality. Since 1923, the constitutional amendment was introduced in every session of Congress until it passed through both the House and Senate in 1972. Congress then placed a seven-year deadline on the ratification process before extending the deadline to 1982. During this period of time only 35 states ratified the ERA, failing to meet the 38 state threshold before the arbitrary deadline. 

With the recent ratifications of the ERA by Nevada in 2017, Illinois in 2018 and Virginia in 2020, all that remains is a resolution from Congress to remove the arbitrary deadline, recognize these recent ratifications, and certify the ERA as the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Ratifying the ERA, which states, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex”, would affirm women’s equality in our Constitution, enshrining the principle of women’s equality and an explicit prohibition against sex discrimination in the nation’s foundational document.

As the 28th Amendment, the ERA would serve as a new tool – for Congress, for federal agencies, and in the courts – to advance equality in the fields of workforce and pay, pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment and violence, reproductive autonomy, and protections for LGBTQ+ individuals. Enshrining this protection in our Constitution would ensure enduring protections for all Americans across the country. It would also signal to the courts that they should apply a more rigorous level of review to laws and government policies that discriminate on the basis of sex, making it more likely for them to be struck down.

In addition to Sens. Warner and Kaine, this legislation was sponsored by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), as well as Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Angus King (I-Maine), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) today wrote the Youngkin administration expressing concerns with the deployment of the Ashanti Alert, which provides rapid dissemination of information to law enforcement agencies, media, and the public about adults who have been reported missing, along with suspect information in cases of suspected abduction.

“Since the enactment of the state law in 2018, there have been eight Ashanti Alerts issued in Virginia. Data provided by the Virginia State Police (VSP) indicates that, of the eight alerts, three victims were safely located, three victims were found murdered, and two victims are currently unaccounted for. Based on these results, I am deeply concerned that the Ashanti Alert, as currently implemented, is not living up to its full potential,” Sen. Warner wrote. 

“The story of Marie Covington underscores this concern. Ms. Covington was last seen on August 17, 2022 at 9:57pm and was reported missing to Virginia Beach Police (VBP) by her family on August 18, 2022 at 10:25pm. Despite Covington’s disappearance meeting the activation criteria, VSP did not issue an Ashanti Alert until August 20, 2022 at 9:50pm – two days after she was reported missing. In that time period, police had already located her car, which was driven by the individual who was later arrested for her murder. The Ashanti Alert was issued only two hours before she was found deceased,” he continued. “The Ashanti Alert program was created to facilitate cooperation and improve communication between public safety entities, with the ultimate goal of saving the lives of endangered individuals. To that end, it is imperative that Ashanti Alerts in Virginia be issued promptly to maximize their effectiveness and serve their purpose.”

In order to ensure proper use of the alert, Sen. Warner requested answers to the following questions:

  1. What proportion of missing persons cases result in the issuance of an Ashanti Alert?
  2. In a specific case, who is responsible for making the determination that “abduction poses a credible threat,” as required by the Ashanti Alert program?
    1. What policies govern the substance of this determination?
    2. What policies govern the timing of this determination?
    3. Were these policies revised as a result of the delay in the Covington case?
  3. Why was an Ashanti Alert not issued in the Covington case until two days after Marie Covington was reported missing?
  4. In the seven cases for which we do not have data, how much time elapsed between the missing person report and the issuance of an Ashanti Alert?
  5. Who has general oversight authority over the implementation of the Ashanti Alert law?
    1. If there is no state official with this authority, why not?

Sen. Warner secured unanimous passage of the Ashanti Alert Act through the Senate on December 6, 2018 and the bill was signed into law on December 31, 2018. Since its implementation, Sen. Warner has consistently secured $1 million annually in government spending to support states who chose to implement an Ashanti Alert system. This funding is included in the Fiscal Year 2023 government spending bill that is being considered in the Senate.

A copy of the letter is available here and below.

Dear Governor Youngkin,

I write to you today regarding the execution of the Ashanti Alert program in the Commonwealth.

As you may be aware, in 2018, Virginia enacted the Critically Missing Adult Alert Plan, also known as the Ashanti Alert, following the tragic death of Ashanti Billie, a 19-year-old who was abducted in Norfolk, Virginia and whose body was discovered 11 days after she was first reported missing. Because Ashanti was too old for an Amber Alert to be issued and no similar network for adults existed at the time, her parents, family, and friends struggled to get word out of her disappearance in a timely fashion.

In the Senate, I was proud to champion the bipartisan passage of the federal Ashanti Alert Act and have subsequently secured federal funding for its implementation every year since its enactment. Today, almost half of all states have a similar alert system that meets the requirements of the federal Ashanti Alert program.

Since the enactment of the state law in 2018, there have been eight Ashanti Alerts issued in Virginia. Data provided by the Virginia State Police (VSP) indicates that, of the eight alerts, three victims were safely located, three victims were found murdered, and two victims are currently unaccounted for. Based on these results, I am deeply concerned that the Ashanti Alert, as currently implemented, is not living up to its full potential.

The story of Marie Covington underscores this concern. Ms. Covington was last seen on August 17, 2022 at 9:57pm and was reported missing to Virginia Beach Police (VBP) by her family on August 18, 2022 at 10:25pm. Despite Covington’s disappearance meeting the activation criteria, VSP did not issue an Ashanti Alert until August 20, 2022 at 9:50pm – two days after she was reported missing. In that time period, police had already located her car, which was driven by the individual who was later arrested for her murder. The Ashanti Alert was issued only two hours before she was found deceased.

I know you share my goal of ensuring that we do everything in our power to make sure missing persons in Virginia are returned home safely. To that end, I am seeking the following information from your office:

  1. What proportion of missing persons cases result in the issuance of an Ashanti Alert?
  2. In a specific case, who is responsible for making the determination that “abduction poses a credible threat,” as required by the Ashanti Alert program?
    1. What policies govern the substance of this determination?
    2. What policies govern the timing of this determination?
    3. Were these policies revised as a result of the delay in the Covington case?
  3. Why was an Ashanti Alert not issued in the Covington case until two days after Marie Covington was reported missing?
  4. In the seven cases for which we do not have data, how much time elapsed between the missing person report and the issuance of an Ashanti Alert?
  5. Who has general oversight authority over the implementation of the Ashanti Alert law?
    1. If there is no state official with this authority, why not?

The Ashanti Alert program was created to facilitate cooperation and improve communication between public safety entities, with the ultimate goal of saving the lives of endangered individuals. To that end, it is imperative that Ashanti Alerts in Virginia be issued promptly to maximize their effectiveness and serve their purpose. Thus, I seek your cooperation and that of relevant state agencies and stakeholders in ensuring that the Ashanti Alert program succeeds in preventing future tragedies and protecting the safety of Americans.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released the following statement applauding the Senate Judiciary Committee’s approval of Judge Robert Ballou – President Biden’s nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia:

“We are pleased to see our recommended candidate for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Judge Robert Ballou, advance through the Senate Judiciary committee. We proudly support Judge Ballou and are confident that he will continue to serve Virginia and our country well. We are looking forward to a full Senate confirmation as soon as possible.”

In August 2021, Sens. Warner and Kaine sent a letter to President Biden recommending Judge Ballou for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia following Judge James P. Jones’ decision to take senior status. President Biden announced Judge Ballou’s nomination in July 2022.

Judge Ballou’s nomination is now subject to confirmation by the full Senate.  

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement after the Senate Judiciary Committee approved President Biden’s nomination of Mr. Jamar Walker to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia:

“After proudly recommending Mr. Jamar Walker to the Biden Administration for the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, we’re pleased the Senate Judiciary Committee voted today to advance his nomination. We remain confident he will serve Virginia and our country with great distinction and urge the full Senate to confirm him as soon as possible.”

In March 2022, Sens. Warner and Kaine sent a letter to President Biden recommending candidates, including Mr. Jamar Walker, for the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia following Judge Raymond A. Jackson’s decision to take senior status in November 2021. Warner and Kaine recommend these individuals based on their distinguished records and the advice of an independent panel of attorneys from across the Commonwealth. The President announced his nomination of Mr. Walker in July 2022.

Mr. Walker’s nomination is now subject to confirmation by the full Senate. 

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement after the Senate voted to confirm U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Hanes to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA):

“After recommending Judge Hanes for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, we are pleased that the Senate voted to confirm her today. With her previous experience and commitment to public service, we know she will serve our Commonwealth and country with great distinction.”

Last year, Sens. Warner and Kaine sent a letter to President Biden recommending Judge Hanes for the position following Judge John A. Gibney, Jr.’s decision to take senior status. President Biden announced her nomination on April 27, 2022. Judge Hanes has served as a Federal Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District since 2020.

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WASHINGTON —Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement on President Biden’s nominations of U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Ballou for the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Abingdon Division and Mr. Jamar Walker for the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk Division.

“We are pleased that the President has nominated Judge Ballou and Mr. Walker to fill these vacancies,” said the senators. “We believe both will serve Virginia and our country with great distinction. We hope our colleagues will join us to support these highly qualified nominees.”

In August 2021, Sens. Warner and Kaine sent a letter to President Biden, recommending Judge Ballou for the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia following Judge James P. Jones’ decision to take senior status in August 2021.

In March 2022, Sens. Warner and Kaine sent a letter to President Biden, recommending Mr. Jamar Walker for the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia following Judge Raymond A. Jackson’s decision to take senior status in November 2021.

These nominations are subject to confirmation by the full Senate.

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WASHINGTON—U.S Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today introduced legislation that provides an additional $10.3 million to the U.S. Marshals Service and $9.1 million to the U.S. Supreme Court to address the unprecedented security threats to the justices, their families, and court employees. 

The U.S. Marshals Service has already been providing around-the-clock security for the nine Justices at their homes and needs $10.3 million in additional funding for costs that have and will be incurred to provide this protection for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22). Similarly, the Supreme Court needs $9.1 million to cover its unexpected, increased security costs.

“Our government institutions are dealing with a record number of threats,” said Sen. Warner. “We saw on January 6 what can happen when we are unprepared for those threats. This legislation will provide the level of funding the Supreme Court needs to protect the justices and court employees.”

“An assassination attempt on one of our Supreme Court Justices is unthinkable, but sadly has become reality,” said Sen. Hagerty. “We must protect our most sacred American institutions, which is why my updated legislation provides the specific amounts requested by the Supreme Court and the U.S. Marshals Service to cover their current security needs. If we, as a Congress, are willing to send tens of billions of dollars for security needs overseas, then surely we can provide a tiny fraction of that amount to protect the men and women of one of the three branches of our federal government. The cost of failing to act is incalculable, as last week’s news made chillingly clear.”

Officials at the Court and the Marshals Service recently provided specific security funding needs to the Appropriations Committee.

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 WASHINGTON —Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement applauding President Biden’s nomination of U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Hanes to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District (EDVA):

“Judge Hanes has worked in consumer litigation, as a federal public defender, and with AmeriCorps, where she helped create and operate a nonprofit for abused children and crime victims. These experiences demonstrate her commitment to service and have prepared her for the rigor and responsibility of this role. We are eager to vote for her confirmation.”

Last year, Warner and Kaine sent a letter to President Biden recommending Judge Hanes, who has served as a Federal Magistrate Judge in the Eastern District since 2020, for the position. Her nomination is subject to confirmation by the full Senate.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement on his intent to support Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court:

“Judge Jackson is a trailblazer and a highly-qualified jurist. Her wide-ranging endorsements – from conservative jurists, civil rights organizations, law enforcement groups, and through her previous bipartisan Senate confirmations – speak to her sterling credentials.

“During her hearing and our meeting, Judge Jackson demonstrated a strong command of constitutional law, a patient and reasoned temperament, and a warm devotion to her family and to the United States. Her confirmation would also take a long overdue step toward making the composition of the Supreme Court better reflect the people it represents by finally including a Black woman.

“After careful consideration, I believe Judge Jackson embodies the highest intellect, impartiality, and honesty, and I look forward to casting my vote in support of her nomination."

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine today sent a letter to President Biden recommending candidates for the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. In their letter, the Senators recommended Mr. Jamar Walker, who has served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia since 2015, and Judge Kevin Duffan, who has been a Circuit Court Judge on the 2nd Judicial Circuit in Virginia Beach, Virginia since April 2020.

“We are pleased to recommend Mr. Jamar Walker and Judge Kevin Duffan for the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia following the decision by Judge Raymond A. Jackson to take senior status effective November 23, 2021,” wrote the Senators. “Both would serve with great distinction and have our highest recommendation.”

Warner and Kaine recommend these individuals based on their distinguished records and the assessments of an independent panel of attorneys from across the Commonwealth. The President will now nominate one individual for the vacancy to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The nominations are subject to confirmation by the full Senate.

A copy of the letter can be found here and below.

Dear Mr. President:

We are pleased to recommend Mr. Jamar Walker and Judge Kevin Duffan for the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia following the decision by Judge Raymond A. Jackson to take senior status effective November 23, 2021. Both would serve with great distinction and have our highest recommendation.

Mr. Walker has served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia since 2015 where he prosecutes financial and public corruption crimes. He began his legal career as a law clerk for Judge Jackson in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. While an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Mr. Walker co-founded an office-wide Committee on Race, Policing, and Prosecution. He is a current member of the Old Dominion Bar Association, the National LGBT Bar Association, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Association of Black Attorneys, and DOJ Pride. He was born and raised on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and considers Tidewater his home. Together, these experiences qualify Mr. Walker for this nomination and we are honored to recommend him.

Judge Duffan has been a Circuit Court Judge on the 2nd Judicial Circuit in Virginia Beach, Virginia, since April 2020. Prior to joining the Circuit Court, Judge Duffan served as a judge in the Virginia Beach Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court. Judge Duffan is engaged in the community and with young lawyers as a mentor. He has served on the Virginia Beach African American Cultural Center Board as Vice President, The Governor's School for the Arts Foundation Board, and was President-elect of the Virginia Beach Bar Association before ascending to the bench. These experiences give us confidence that Judge Duffan would make an excellent nominee for this seat.

Ultimately, we believe either of these individuals would win confirmation from the Senate and serve capably on the bench. We are honored to recommend them to you.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement on President Biden’s nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court:

“With his historic selection of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Biden has nominated a qualified jurist with extraordinary credentials and a brilliant legal mind who has been repeatedly confirmed by the Senate on a bipartisan basis.

“I look forward to a timely confirmation hearing in the Senate, fulfilling our constitutional responsibility in a swift manner.”

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the following statement today on the planned retirement of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer: 

“I am very grateful to Associate Justice Stephen Breyer for his nearly 30 years of service on the Supreme Court. With a distinguished career rooted in public service, Associate Justice Breyer stands as a model for young people all across America who seek to strengthen democracy. I trust that President Biden will carefully select a nominee to replace Associate Justice Breyer, and I look forward to closely reviewing the nominee’s qualifications and experience.”

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